By John Lynds
With the 2016-2017 school year in full swing, a group of volunteers from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the Boston Celtics, and City Year descended upon the Donald McKay School in East Boston last Friday to take part in a day-long community service day at the school.
Joined by Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas and former player and assistant coach Walter McCarthy, the volunteers helped to cleanup and brighten up the indoor and outdoor learning and recreational spaces at the school.
“Harvard Pilgrim is proud to partner with the Boston Celtics and City Year to help urban schools create clean, safe and healthy environments for local students to play and learn,” said Harvard Pilgrim Foundation Director of Service and Giving, Janelle Woods-McNish. “We are fortunate to have such great longtime partners who know the value of working together to build strong, vibrant communities.”
Thomas and McCarthy and the 150 or so volunteers spent the day at the McKay painting murals in the cafeteria and gym, helping to clean up the neighboring East Boston Greenway, assembling packs of classroom supplies, and painting outdoor playground graphics. In addition, Boston Celtics team members and staff hosted a basketball clinic for McKay students, and Harvard Pilgrim employees hosted healthy eating and cooking demonstrations.
“It is extremely important not only to me, but to the entire Celtics organization, to be active in the community,” said Thomas. “Having a lasting impact on these students’ lives is a truly rewarding experience.”
Through a partnership with Cradles to Crayons, the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation distributed more than 600 backpacks filled with pencils, notebooks and other school supplies to the McKay students.
Friday’s event marked the 9th year that the Boston Celtics and City Year have partnered with the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation for its annual day of service in support of a local school. Harvard Pilgrim is a current sponsor of City Year Boston’s Extended Day Programs, which play a role in helping students gain additional learning time beyond the school day in the form of supplemental tutoring, homework help and enrichment programming.
“Students across the city are entering school this week, excited and eager to learn,” said Vice President and Executive Director of City Year Boston Sandra Lopez Burke at the McKay event. “Projects like this inject that same energy into the learning spaces at the McKay K-8 and McKinley South End Academy schools and help students start the year on the right track. We at City Year Boston look forward to this day every year and are grateful to Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, its Foundation, and the Boston Celtics for their continued partnership in service to Boston Public Schools.”
State Representative Adrian Madaro also stopped by to thank the volunteers.
“It is great to see corporate partners like Harvard Pilgrim and the Celtics join forces with the McKay School staff and City Year to improve the look of the school and create outdoor educational spaces for our students here in East Boston,” said Madaro.
The Boston Celtics’ Ted Dalton, Janelle Woods McNish of Harvard Pilgrim Foundation, McKay Principal Jordan Weymer and Celtics Gaurd Isaiah Thomas during the community service day at the McKay School.
Former Celtics player and Assistant Coach Walter McCarty with McKay students.
Harvard Pilgrim Foundation, City Year and Celtic volunteers work on painting some picnic tables outside the school.
Volunteers paint murals at the school.
Former Celtics player and Assistant Coach Walter McCarty ran a basketball clinic for students.